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VISIT TIES FAMILY BOND
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
COVE Although an ocean away, the people of Germany felt America's pain vividly on Sept. 11.
Gerhard Marx, a resident of Weil am Rhein, Germany, knows this well. He still gets emotional, despite the passage of 11 months, when he discusses how the German people responded to the tragedy.
"Everyone prayed together for Americans,'' said Marx through an interpreter on Wednesday. "...The churches were so full that they could not hold everyone.''
Marx will also never forget how Germany's firemen brought wreaths at public memorials. They did so to express reverence for the firefighters who died in the tragedy.
Marx, 60, is in Cove visiting his second cousin, Arthur Stockton. They are communicating with the help of interpreter Josefa Kern of Cove.
"They are a very close family even though they do not speak the same language,'' Kern said.
Stockton welcomed the opportunity to host Marx. Stockton and his wife, Carole, visited Marx at his home in Germany in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001.
"He took us to castles that were built in 700 and to the Roman ruins. I was thrilled to see it all. I wanted a chance to reciprocate,'' said Arthur Stockton, a retired forester.
Stockton's first trip to Germany is documented. An article in the German newspaper Oberbadisches Volksblatt on his visit was published in a 1993 edition. A photograph of Stockton and Marx appeared in the Lorrach, Germany, newspaper. The photograph showed the two in a vineyard owned by Marx.
Marx is employed in Germany as an agriculture inspector but will soon retire.
The Weil am Rhein resident said that this is not a good time to be in business in Germany because of the nation's skittish economy. Marx believes that Germany's economy is stagnating because of the changeover to the euro. The transition from the mark to Europe's new unified currency was completed Jan. 1.
Marx said prices have gone Germans are afraid to invest because they do not trust the euro.
"People don't want to invest because they are so uncertain about the value of the currency. People used to be able to trust the German mark,'' Marx said.
Marx's wife, Rosemarie, was not able to make the trip to the United States, but his daughter, Nicoline, 15, is with him. Marx said that Nicoline has made things much easier because she speaks English.
German youths are taught English in school today, but that was not the case years ago.
Gerhard Marx has been in Oregon less than a week, but he is impressed with many things, including the "politeness" of its drivers. He said that in Germany the drivers with the most powerful cars often dominate the road.
Marx also likes Eastern Oregon's open spaces. They are a sharp contrast to densely populated Germany. He speaks of "great dimensions'' when describing Eastern Oregon.